About My Cancer
I had a surprise diagnosis of stage IV prostate cancer in January 2016. PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is the main blood test for detecting prostate cancer. The normal range for PSA is 0-4. When I was diagnosed, my PSA was 200. The cancer had already metastasized to my bones, from my neck and ribs down my spine to my pelvis and the tops of my femurs. Stage IV prostate cancer isn’t curable. Treatments can slow down the cancer’s growth, but the five-year survival rate is around 25%. I was 58 years old when diagnosed.
The first line of treatment is hormone therapy, which stomps on testosterone, removing a primary fuel for the cancer’s growth. First-line hormone therapy, plus the early chemotherapy I had during April-July 2016, was supposed to halt the cancer’s growth for 2-3 years or more. However, just a few months after I finished chemo, my PSA started rising again.
So in January 2017, I started on a second-line treatment of an anti-androgen drug that is supposed to stall cancer progression for a year and a half, on average. It only worked for a few months before my PSA started rising again. Meanwhile, in March/April 2017, I had an immunotherapy treatment approved for advanced prostate cancer. By July 2017, I was feeling bad enough–fatigue, lack of concentration, depression–that I applied for and received short term disability. I also began investigating clinical trials, as I’d quickly exhausted nearly all the FDA-approved treatments. The rest of the story, along with some of the backstory, will be in the blog posts.
Before I had to go on disability, I worked as a user experience designer. Mainly, I designed web-based applications that my company used internally for distributing media content to their customers. Now that I can’t work, most of my time and energy are taken up with eating, sleeping, exercising, resting, going to doctor’s appointments, resting, picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, untangling various messes around medical or disability insurance, resting, and sometimes writing a bit. I’ve been working on memoirs for my family, and I’m also writing a book about my experience of cancer.
I don’t live alone. My wife Liz and I keep each other company, aided by our recently acquired pup, Gibbie. Gibbie adds joy and amusement to our empty-nester existence. Then in March 2019 we got a second dog, Digory. Both are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Our three children are all married and we have five grandsons, three of them local. They also add joy to our lives. We love our church and the Sunday school class who have supported us so well during our difficulties. I also get good support from our local Cancer Support Community, a wonderful resource.